The former Carpet and Rug Institute building at 730 College Drive in Dalton has been renovated for athletics use at Dalton State College and has been named for Melvyn Ottinger, who took the school to national basketball prominence in its Dalton Junior College days with a 10-year record of 228-78. In a release announcing the Ottinger Athletic Center, current athletic director Derek Waugh said, "This naming and honor is a perfect fit for a man who has dedicated his life to making athletics such an important part of the greater Dalton community. He literally started Dalton Junior College athletics from scratch and built his Roadrunners into a national power. ... 'Coach O' has called Dalton home ever since retiring from the faculty at Dalton State. He was not only a great coach but a great citizen and advocate for athletics in the community. 'Coach O' was not only a major part of the past, but he has been instrumental in bringing athletics back to the school at the four-year level. His help, mentorship and enthusiasm have been absolutely essential in returning athletics to Dalton State and a major factor in our success." The Dalton State Foundation bought the building and donated it to the Dalton State Athletic Club, Inc., and the John Willis Mashburn Charitable Trust paid for the renovations, including coaches' offices, five locker rooms, a physical therapy rehabilitation room and a players' lounge. That funding was part of a large pledge to the department by the Mashburn Trust, according to the DSC release, with the condition that Ottinger's name be on the center. "The Mashburn Trust has been the engine behind the success of Dalton State athletics," Waugh said.
• Dalton State volleyball coach Bruna Langner has signed Larissa Bianchi of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to join her sister Alyne on the Roadrunners this coming season. Like Alyne, the 5-foot-9 outside and right-side hitter is a versatile athlete, having done swimming, gymnastics and synchronized swimming before getting into the family sport at "about the age of 11." As Larissa described her background in a DSC release, "Since I was a little girl I've been watching my family play volleyball. My grandfather played for the national Brazilian team, so even before I was born, my mom knew I was going to play." As a young teen in 2009 she played in her first national volleyball tournament with the Flamengo club and was hooked. Flamengo made that an annual trip, and her high school team won state titles every year. "Nothing will be like playing for a college in the USA," she said. "I can't wait to play for Dalton State, and I know that this season has a lot in store for our team."
• Tusculum College first baseman Heath Comerford from McMinn County led all of NCAA Division II in bases on balls per game this past season, with 1.04. His 50 total walks were second in the country and gave him 100 for his career, third most in Pioneers history. Comerford also batted .293 with team highs of 16 doubles and five home runs plus a triple, 46 runs scored and 39 batted in as Tusculum went 31-21.
• Former Chattanooga High School and University of Chattanooga athlete, longtime area coach and official Mose Payne died Saturday at the age of 79 and was buried Wednesday after a funeral service at First Cumberland Presbyterian Church. After playing several sports at City High, Payne went to the University of Alabama but transferred to UC, where he played varsity basketball and tennis and was president of the student body and a distinguished military graduate. Most of his teaching and coaching career was at Baylor, where he primarily coached in the lower school but was the high school tennis coach for five years. He officiated high school football and high school and college basketball games and for seven years was a TSSAA supervisor of officials. He and his wife of 57 years, Martha, also were longtime UTC Mocs fans.